"Dad! He flushed my Spider-Man down the toilet!" was the scream that started it all. But we'll come back to that in a minute.
It can be easy for Christians to get so caught up in giving of ourselves that we don't allow others to return the favor. This is especially true for those of us who feel called to make a positive impact in the lives of those we interact with.
But, when we do this, we risk missing out on amazing lessons that others can teach us. Did you know Christians can learn a lot about Jesus and his character from those who do not call themselves Christians? It's true. If you've been reading the other articles in our "Why Be A Better Neighbor Series" then you know this happens to us all the time. And it would probably happen to you too, if you allowed yourself to be open to it.
But, let's get back to the story.
Your neighbors will do your dirty work
"Dad! He flushed my Spider-Man down the toilet!"
This is the scream we heard just minutes before finding a dangerously high water level indicating that our toilet was backed up. And it was not the color we were hoping for.
But it was much worse than that. Not only were we one flush away from needing to completely replace our floor mat. But every attempt to plunge the toilet only resulted in a dark, chunky flow coming up from the drain in the bathtub.
That's right. Our toilet was so badly clogged that everything we had flushed in the last few hours was now returning to us in the place we go to get clean. Our relaxing bubble sanctuary with bath salts on the ledge was being defiled. And it smelled horrible.
Oh, and did we mention we had a group of people coming to our house for a Bible study in an hour? Perfect.
I (Joe) decided I was going to need one of those plumbing snakes for this one, but my tool selection is very limited. So, I went on a hunt in the neighborhood. I knocked on doors until I found someone with a snake I could borrow. Most of our neighbors -who am I kidding- all of our neighbors are more handy than I am. So I knew someone would have the tool I needed.
Finally I found a neighbor with not 1, but 2 plumbing snakes. And, not only was he willing to let me borrow them, but he insisted that he would come over and help me. And he brought along an old metal coat hanger too...just in case.
By now, our Bible study group was in our dining room snacking on whatever delicious thing Sarah had prepared for them.
We walked past them with our plumbing tools and got straight to work.
My neighbor took the lead on this one. He bent that coat hanger into a nice little hook, and he started pushing the hook into the toilet in a valiant effort to rescue Spider-Man from a burial at sea.
And, before I even knew what was happening, our neighbor was wrist deep in our toilet. Our toilet that hadn't successfully flushed in a few hours.
I tried to take over. I had to take over. That was my family's.....
But he wouldn't let me. I think he knew I'd probably make things worse. But not once did he cringe about the dirty job he had taken on.
This went on for about 20 or 30 minutes before we conceded defeat.
In the end, we found Spider-Man in a toy box. He had been safe all along. But that meant we had a bigger problem.
We had to call out a professional plumber to clear what turned out to be roots that had apparently grown into our pipes. It was a much larger job than we realized.
Was it a waste of time?
It was absolutely not a waste of time...for us.
Because, we walked away from that evening in awe of this neighbor. A man willing to go to such great depths (pardon the pun) because he cared enough about helping another family on the block.
Neither of us can remember what our topic was for that Bible study, but everyone in our house that night experienced what Jesus meant when he said to love your neighbor as yourself.
Do you want to learn lessons like this from your neighbors?
Well, you're going to have to meet them first. And we have just the thing for you to make this easier.
Click below to get a PDF that includes 10 of the best excuses we have found for getting out of your house and meeting the people in your neighborhood.